image created by fromtracie and used with permission
One of the most powerful decisions I’ve ever made was to open up and tell my stories. To be brave with my words on behalf of those who haven’t found the strength to talk about their past shame or their present sorrow. By way of the internet, I found a strong support system, a welcoming community, and other people who have chosen to be brave with their words. I sometimes even share my words “in real life” thanks to the transparency I’ve gotten in the habit of having on my blog.
September 9-15 is National Suicide Prevention Week. If ever there was a week to be brave and tell your story in the hopes that just one person might read and feel validated, understood, or more hopeful, this is that week.
I am a survivor of several forms of abuse
I suffer from depression
I had undiagnosed PPD and Post Partum Anxiety for several years
I woke up during an abortion procedure when I was 19
I went through an ugly custody battle and am in the middle of a divorce
I have experienced PTSD, experienced detachment and had intrusive thoughts, and have considered suicide.
I have written about mental illness awareness and invisible disabilities, and talked about what goes on in my head sometimes.
My story is told from my perspective. It may not match up with the other person’s experience of the situation, but that doesn’t mean that my perspective is wrong or invalid. My feelings are my own. My perspective is always valid, and it doesn’t require anyone’s approval or permission for me to speak or write about it.
The same goes for you.
You own everything that has happened to you. It has contributed to who you are, but your past doesn’t define you. Mental illness doesn’t define you, divorce doesn’t define you, abuse doesn’t define you. It’s part of your story. But it doesn’t have to be your whole story.
There are people who will read these words, wishing for the darkness to end. Wishing for a hand to reach out and hold theirs. Wishing for someone to see through their facade and ask, honestly, “are you okay?”. Wishing they could trust someone enough to reply honestly.
There are others who will read these words who can’t yet take the risk of showing anyone who they are and how they feel. Who still feel that they cannot ever truly be vulnerable because they might break open and never be able to pull themselves together again.
I know that feeling. I know that fear. I lived through a long season where I had to be strong all day every day because there was no one to hold me if I collapsed. I had pushed everyone so far away that there was no one there to pick up the pieces with me.
But the day came when I could begin to relax, begin to trust, begin to open up again. I reached out when I was in pain to friends who had been brave and shared their pain with me. I could find a safe place for my feelings of fear and despair.
You are here today, reading my words. If you need to talk, I am someone safe to share with.
Trust me.. there is nothing you could tell me that would shock me or repel me. I may not have experienced your exact situation, or felt your exact pain… but I have walked my own road and have scars, too. Seeing the open wounds you have only makes me have more compassion and understanding toward you, and respect for your story. I would encourage you to risk reaching out.
If anyone is reading my words and someone you know comes to mind to reach out to… please reach out. Send a simple text, write an anonymous note of encouragement, offer a hug, look into their eyes and ask how they are.. really. And wait for a “real” answer.
I don’t think anyone wants to commit suicide. They’re just so. damn. tired. of fighting. Everything is so hard all the time and the endurance to cope is overpowering. Having suicidal ideation is scary, but you know what else? It’s also understandable in the face of trauma, abuse, abandonment, anxiety, and unrelenting sorrow. You’re not crazy. You’re not a bad person.
You’re just tired of being alone.
I would encourage anyone who has a story to tell, either using their own name or anonymously, to submit it to BandBackTogether. I would also encourage you to become a part of the To Write Love On Her Arms organization and People Of The Second Chance. The community that these three organizations provide for those who are hurting and need mercy, grace, love, and encouragement, is truly amazing.
Thank you for taking the time to read what’s been on my mind this week.
If you need to talk, day or night, the HopeLine is a call away: 1-800-422-HOPE . The Suicide Hotline is staffed 24/7 also and can be reached at 1-800-SUICIDE .
Thanks to my friend Aunt Becky for these words: “we are none of us alone”
Author’s Note: Please read the links I included, and feel free to share my post if you think it might help someone.